INDIANAPOLIS – In wanting an offense that clicks both rushing and passing, the key is to stock components to assist Andrew Luck.
The third-round draft selection of Donte Moncrief was a move that added a young, physical talent to a receiving corps bursting with promise.
At 6-2, 224, Moncrief has the biggest stature of any Indianapolis receiver, and Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze feels his addition will reap dividends.
"(His) size, speed-ratio for a kid who's of that size and strength," said Freeze on why Indianapolis would have him so high on its draft board.
"He's a phenomenal run blocker, as good as I've ever seen in that regard. He needs to be more consistent in route precision, but he can stretch the field vertically. He absolutely can. For a kid that size, it's a pretty rare find."
Moncrief opened 37-of-38 games at Ole Miss, snagging 156 passes for 2,371 yards and 20 scores. He averaged 16 yards per reception as a junior, and 13 of his last 16 touchdown receptions were 20 yards or longer.
Freeze said the Rebels' offense is much like the Colts in that there is not one go-to target. That was one reason why Moncrief's numbers last year did not top the club or match his sophomore year levels.
Another is because defenders knew of Moncrief's explosive capabilities.
"His numbers probably were a little down based on several things," said Freeze. "We had some other good receivers, and we like to spread it around. People played some umbrella coverage to his side at times. It wasn't because he was a lesser of a player."
When Ryan Grigson had his third round pick arrive, Moncrief's size and ability made it a quick decision.
"He was not a guy we thought was going to be there at three," said Grigson locally afterward. "You're talking about a 20-year old kid that's (big) and ran 4.34. He's able to be around some great receivers that he can mimic and by osmosis be able to get better.
"He's willing to learn. He's one of those guys that you've coached before who keeps his head down. You don't know he's there but every time you look over, he's working. Usually, those are the kind of guys wired like that who run 4.7. Speed's not his problem. He just needs some time, he's 20."
Said Moncrief of moving from the SEC to the NFL, "The pros, it's a different level. Everything's fast. You've got to learn on the run. The best thing to do is just get with some older guys, take everything they've got to say and run with it."
Freeze has no doubts the hard-working Moncrief will meet the challenges ahead. The first steps are the basics at his position.
"(It's) winning the top end of the route. He has the speed and strength," said Freeze. "His hands are adequate. He needs to continue to work on that, the ball skills part.
"The route is going to have to be won for him at the top end of it. For a guy that's as big, it's natural to have some limitations in regard to getting in and out of breaks at the top end. I think he will be as good as any run blocker you have on the team right now."
Moncrief was durable in college. He ranked third among receivers in speed at the combine, where he also produced an 11-foot vertical leap to accompany a wingspan of almost 78 inches.
He joins a cast that includes veterans Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks – all 1,000-yard NFL performers – along with younger players headlined by Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen.
Given that cast and talented tight ends and backs, Freeze sees this being a perfect landing spot for a player willing to hone skills to match raw ability.
"I think it's a really good fit," said Freeze. "I like the fact (the Colts) spread the ball around and obviously have a great quarterback.
"He's a hard-working, explosive player who can add an added dimension to the team. I'm really excited about the fit, and I know Donte is, too."
Moncrief is busy working his way into the process.
"This was a dream as a little boy. I'm finally here now, just taking everything in from the older guys, learning the plays and doing whatever the team wants me to do.
"I'm going to bring speed. I'm bringing size, and I'm not scared of blocking and being able to put my body out there for my teammates."